Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | January 7, 2011

You Just Never Know

Sometimes things don’t quite turn out the way you planned them…but usually, if you give them a chance, you find out that they turned out better than you had expected.

Yesterday was just such a day.

Little did we know that Kona Joe takes a vacation the week after New Year’s, when we left White Springs with the intention of playing music on his patio.

So, after visiting campgrounds, doing some shopping, and taking in the sun on the beach, we strolled over to his shop to surprise him.

However, we were the ones who got the surprise, as the door was locked, the lights were off, and Joe was nowhere to be found!

We stood there, frozen in place, looking at one another. How could he not be there?!

We waited a few minutes in case we were simply imagining that he was closed, but the situation remained the same.

Not really sure what to do next, we walked down the street and up the stairs to the Rusty Rim restaurant and bar, to drown our sorrows in Cokes and sandwiches.

The Rusty Rim sits on the wharf over the water, as does Kona Joe’s, and its surrounded by windows on three sides, so all that you see if you sit anywhere other than facing the bar, is water, with a wonderful view of the Cedar Key shoreline and a few nearby islands.

We decided on Gator Bites as an appetizer. Keith ordered a Reuben, and I chose a New England Dog. The sandwiches were quite tasty, but the gator was disappointing…tasted like chewy chicken nuggets ~ but then, what should you expect from something as big and nasty looking as an alligator!

We sat and ate and looked out at the water, discussing the day, and the options it had opened up for us.

We had visited four campgrounds on our way to Cedar Key…the first was brand new and sort of sterile looking, and the man at the desk acted like he could have cared less if we stayed there. It was definitely not a place for us to hang our hats.

The second campground was much older, the RV sites were too small for our fifth wheel, and the residents were quite a bit older than we are.

The third only had four RV sites, all of which were rented.

But the fourth ~ and this is where the unexpected part that I talked about earlier comes in ~ was the jewel of our day!

Sunset Isle RV Park and Motel sits right on State Road 24, about a mile from the wharf, the Island Hotel, and Kona Joe’s.

The minute we walked into the park, we knew we had met kindred spirits. We were greeted by one of the owners, and a co-worker.

It was refreshing to see people nearer our age, and they were both friendly and helpful…taking all the time we needed to have our questions answered.

We took a walking tour of the park and then returned to the office, where we were treated to samples of their tasty homemade fudge, and more conversation.

We learned that the owner lived and raised her family in White Springs, and used to have a blueberry farm just minutes from our campground.

We talked about rates and the length of our stay…turns out they have winter season workampers who play bluegrass music on Friday nights, and we were invited to join them if we can get away.

The campground is hosting a vintage camper group at the end of January, and they let you tour their campers on Saturday. We’ve got that date on our calendar for a return trip. Should be a lot of fun.

After hugs all around, we left Sunset Isle with a smile on our faces…we’d found a new home away from home, and made some new “instant” friends!

We left Cedar Key around 3 p.m., totally satisfied with the outcome of the day.

We made one stop on the way home ~ one of those impulse things…for two months we’ve been passing these giant tourist signs promoting a Florida visitor’s center, bags of fruit for $1.00, and a 13 ft. long alligator.

Now, it’s the gator that got Keith’s attention, and he had mentioned several times that he would like to stop to see it. So, as we approached the exit, I suggested we stop.

The visitor’s center was a true tourist trap. Huge bins of fresh, juicy and delicious citrus fruit were set out all over the parking lot, and inside the store you could pick up every manner of Florida memorabilia you would ever want (except plastic pink flamingos, which I have been searching for – a story for another day).

The alligator was proudly displayed in one end of the store, and Keith finally got his wish…and a bit more than he had bargained for 🙂

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